Dear Mouthy Housewives,
What do you think?
I admire your husband’s instincts. He wants to protect your son from the heartbreak of loss and distract him with a trip out of town. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to lessen the boy’s pain with something shiny, like a new baseball. What? Baseballs are not shiny? Then why isn’t there any crying in baseball?
Your husband’s approach is so logical and compassionate, it’s almost enough to make me overlook that it’s totally wrong.
Because as painful as it is to lose this Mary Poppins/Grandma/All Around Favorite Person, all rolled into one, you can’t trick your son out of going through the grieving process. You and your husband need to acknowledge this is one of the many separations that your son will have to go through in his life. Friends will move away, beloved relatives will die, his first love will break his heart. And as parents, you cannot shield him from those losses.
But there are ways that you and your husband can help. You can acknowledge your son’s feelings of loss and respect them. You can discuss ways that he can maintain contact with his nanny after she moves away—whether by email or phone or old-fashioned letter-writing. If it's feasible, you can plan future trips to visit her or ask her to visit you.
Credit Image: T. Carrigan on Flickr
The fact that your son’s (and yours!) relationship with this woman is changing doesn’t mean that it has to end.
Speak to your nanny and to your son separately about how they would like to say good bye. If she has time and is willing to see you and your son the weekend that she is moving away and your son would like to come to say goodbye, then he should.
He should also feel that it is okay to feel sad, that he does not need to hide his feeling and that you and his father understand what he is going though.
It’s hard to see your child hurt. But giving him the tools to work through his feelings is an important lesson. And more effective than avoidance.
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